Angela Readman’s ‘Poppies’

Born in Middlesbrough in 1973, Angela Readman completed her MA in Creative Writing at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle.  She has published two full length poetry collections and several shorter collections.  Her short stories and poetry have appeared in a number of magazines, including Envoi and Mslexia.
Read Annie Clarkson’s review of Strip (Salt Publishing, 2007) here.
Order your own copy of Strip here.

“Poppies” is the first poem in the collection.

Angela Readman

I could have slept in the poppies for a hundred years,
and would not have thanked the one who woke me.
I’d have taken off the ruby slip-ons, rubbed the blisters,
and made inside the red my home.
I wouldn’t have missed you.
A man wearing someone else’s face
may have visited, yet would have been you just the same.
Courage is just another abstract,
like friendship, and all the hearts you seek
grow on stubbled stalks, clot
their residue onto your sleeve.

I could have stayed, not been your girl in Kansas,
waited for the wooden house and rocking chair
to cyclone their way into pieces, reassemble
a helter-skelter house above my head.
I could have never learnt to bake apple pie,
or dance with a field hand,
or be told I was too old to climb a fence
and sleep by the foal in the barn.

I’d let the gas lamp in there flicker,
and travellers approach.
They’d come into my parlour,
and take off their shoes.
My inviting room with the stove on,
so tempting you’d never notice
there’s nobody home.

Since only the two of us were inhaling,
you could have gone on to the envious city
in your snow-globe eyeball.
Your scarecrow gait leaking blood for ravens,
Tinman crying that I slept on,
until his eyes rust to half shut.
You should have gone on
to buy paper poppies,
place a wreath on a carved marble dog,

and left us.
Just me and the lion
curled together in dreams,
feeding flying monkeys
that breathe in the dust on our skin.
Read more of Angela’s poems on Laura Hird’s website.

7 thoughts on “Angela Readman’s ‘Poppies’

  1. Annie

    I love Angela’s collection, it really is beautiful and astute and gathers up all kinds of experiences that I could really relate to… I so recommend it. Thanks for this reminder…

  2. Michelle Post author

    Hi Annie! Other than your initial recommendation – and your recommendations have been spot on – I found the cover of the collection striking, and am so glad I ordered the collection. Angela is brave and clever. Kudos to you for the review too.

  3. christine

    My breath sort of caught in my chest when I read this poem, a wonderful piece, because I just wrote a poem a week or so ago in which I mused about the Wizard of Oz. One of my favorite movies growing up. I never read the book as a child, but I’ve found the whole thing online! I love how the narrator puts herself into the role of Dorothy, yet brings us into an even more intimate relationship with her than we ever had in the film.

    There was a line in it that was so funny, about how a giant crow went to retrieve the scarecrow because he was so light, the bird was able to lift him. Funny logic.

  4. Michelle Post author

    Hi Christine, I once tried writing a poem about ruby slippers – and abandoned it. The Wizard of Oz is evocative material.

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